Regional Cooperation in the Western Balkans: Stabilisation Device or Integration Policy?
AbstractThis article analyses regional cooperation between the Stabilisation and Association Process (SAP) states with particular emphasis on the interplay with EU integration. It argues that regional cooperation is not solely a means of stabilising the SAP 'five' (SAP5) in advance of policies to integrate them with the EU but that regional cooperation is itself a vital part of the EU integration process. This applies to both the regional integration/trade liberalisation component, which is a clear functional EU pre-accession activity, and also to the more diverse set of activities which are targeting the regional hard and soft security problems. The latter addresses the more baseline, region-wide aspects of Europeanisation, and is therefore more of a foundation course for EU accession than integration 'proper', but is nevertheless a necessary step in the SAP countries own 'return to Europe'. With Croatia on the verge of EU candidate status the political conditions for SAP zone regional cooperation should become increasingly favourable and it is important that the practical as well as political contributions of the regional cooperation commitment to the EU integration endeavour of the SAP5 are clearly understood. It is also vital that the actual regional cooperation programme avoids over-ambitious agendas and is properly adjusted to real needs and evolving circumstances of the SAP region. (Ingenta)
CitationPerspectives on European Politics and Society, 5(2): 203-241
PublisherLondon, Routledge (Taylor & Francis)
JournalPerspectives on European Politics and Society